Friday, March 02, 2007

gates


Despite all my learning I simply cannot figure out what really is going on in this journey we call life. Just don’t seem to be able to get through the gate to enlightenment. It was the same with the 3 lessons in Church the other day (Exodus 34: 29-end, 2 Cor 3: 12-4.2, Luke 9: 28-36). Intuition tells me that meaning is there, but somehow I cannot put my finger on it. I guess many have been in this position before, unable to unlock the meaning of the text/of life. No amount of frantic searching seems to help. In fact, no amount of careful thinking seems to help either - though sometimes having the right book to hand is a useful starting point. Usually though, the key is not in a book, but lying in plain plain view in some obscure place i have yet to visit. The result is that life is a bit more of an attentive waiting game. Our eyes have to be hope for hints of meaning all the time.

Let me try and explain my rambling a little more clearly. I have always been haunted by many things, one of which is an image in T.S. Elliot's 'Ash Wednesday': "...where three dreams cross/ Between blue rocks". It's a beautiful and evocative line - both elusive and alliterative, with a really lovely half rhyme between 'cross' and 'rocks' based on moving the 'k' sound from the beginning to the end. I remember walking through a graveyard one night - it must have been about this time of year - the sun had already set, just. And as i walked through the Yew trees in the churchyard i saw the blue rocks - old tomb stones at the end of the day. Suddenly the whole scene made sense - particularly the following lines about Yew trees - the clue that Elliot planted long ago. And so did the later lines, 'Teach us to sit still/ Even among these rocks/ Our peace in His will.'

I guess I have one point to make. That is that our doing mearly provides context for our hearing. Living out our (Christian) vocation (though that seems an impossibilty to me most of the time) puts us in the right place to begin understanding it, but it doesn't instantly provide that understanding. Doing is the foundation for thinking. The text of the Bible still needs to be read, and who knows what we might find there if we dwell long enough with the text in context of our world. I guess at the end of the day advice is superfluous...the doing comes first i guess – must get through that bloody gate!

14 comments:

Anna said...

I love this image Paul. I can't take my eyes off of it! This was so insightful. Thanks for taking the time to write these words you are thinking....

Ramble anytime! :) I'm listening.

bluemountainmama said...

wow....that you had that insightful moment in the graveyard. i would have never realized that's what he meant.... and it DOES make much more sense now. and so with the Bible....i many times have had that AHA! moment with certain scriptures... a lot of times within the context of doing, like you said....or it taking on a different meaning for me as my experiences change. i remember having a hard time with the "Sins of the father" verse, wondering why the children had to be cursed....but then, after working at a home for abused/neglected children it all came to light....it wasn't GOD punishing the children for the father's sins...it was them experiencing the natural consequences of the parent's choices- which, in these cases, seems to go on and on for generations until the cycle is broken. it doesn't make it any less heart-breaking.... but it helped me hold out hope that the cycle could be broken if the children's hearts could be healed, so that they didn't become abusers.

well...that was quite the ramble on my part, too...thought-provoking post!

bluemountainmama said...

oh...and patty griffin...her songs make me cry on a regular basis...i need to get her new album.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

anna
they are a tired old pair of gates to a large house that i passed a few days ago and the light seemed good - it works better in black and white than colour - gives it a more timeless quality...
am pleased you enjoy the rambles - sometimes i have nothing in the tank, but late last night (or very early this morning) after wine the words spilled out and seemed to make a little sense
ps, still thinking about my answer to your question yesterday

BlueMM
i have always loved graveyards - they have never spooked me at all. i remember doing a photo shoot for a girl once and i used the juxtaposition of the old gravestones against her youth and i liked the paradox - they both seemed so removed and yet so part of each other
As for 'ash wednesday' - well, inspired moments like that are rare - but i guess seeing as i do write the odd thing i should try and pay attention more

ps, i like your take on 'sins of the father'
pps you must get the new patty - it's beautiful - up there with ghosts

bjk said...

I'm a gravestone kicker myself, talking to God in the middle of them...arguing/wrestling with Him and in my frustration kicking stones, grave stones....

Peace in His will......that's what scares me you know......that what you pray for starts to come true and even that frightens you...

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

bjk,
i like the idea of a gravestone kicker - i like wrestling with god, tho the scars and bone breaks seem to be up there with jacob

i agree about peace being scary - i think i would worry if i found it - not sure what that says about me really

L.Reis said...

The "bloody gate" is just great!

Niki said...

I've been at work since 7am and it's such a gorgeous morning. I've written an essay on miracles for philosophy, written a french essay and read a bit of Bob Bowie. I've spent my entire morning working on religious philosophy and ethics (even in french) and I honestly don't see what it is I've gained. Will knowing the dates of Aquinas or Augstine or someone help me make ethical decisions? Nope.

I don't think one necessarily has to charge through the gate; often things are a lot more beautiful from the outside looking in, no matter how shallow that may appear.

Kyle said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the duck!

and I'm also glad that my photography could add to your personal atmosphere!

Carmi said...

I often wonder something similar, and I comfort myself in the knowledge that mere humans aren't really supposed to know the whole story. There's a larger context that I believe will become somewhat more apparent at some point in the future.

Faith will somehow get us there. We've just got to believe. Whatever it is, of course, that we choose to believe in.

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

i.reis,
thanks - that rhymes too - will be seeing it again tomorrow, i guess it will look very different as it will be pissing down with train - will take a shot all the same

hi niki
nothing shallow about that at all - you think too deeply to ever be that, and your life experience will never allow it, actually some gates are best left alone....

kyle
love your images - you have that natural instinct - it's a gift, nurture it well.....

Carmi
what a dull life if we knew it all - it's part of my struggle with conservative christianity - they think they have all the answers - god is way too big - we think we are God - such arrogance. i like being small - i know i know nothing, it keeps me searching after the mystery, whatever that mystery is

love your blog bu the way....

Awareness said...

William Glasser proposes that our thinking, doing, feeling and physiology are all interlinked. Our doing impacts our cognitive processes, our emotions and how we physically feel. I tend to agree with him, though life isn't so simplistic and we often don't have control all the time over what we can do or the events which feed how we feel.........or the capacity to make the choice for changing a route.

His philosophy includes good questions one can ask oneself (or ask another person).....is what I am doing getting me what I want? Of course, one has to know what one wants.......and that messes up the whole scenario.

I agree with you.....doing often comes before.......especially the "doing" activity which allows us to clear our internal fog so as to think things through and to feel differently......

walking around the gates and the fence briskly over and over...thinking and doing and looking and wondering allows us to be comfortable with the setting enough to veer off the path and through the gates and into the woods.

Mata H said...

It is in the doing -- after all, how can we understand "the Word made flesh" outside of doing - doing is incarnational. Great post.

On a silly and lighter note, I love this bit of graffiti:

To be is to do -- Plato
To do is to be -- Satre
Do be do be do -- Sinatra

The Harbour of Ourselves said...

dana
never heard of him, but i think he may be right

i wonder whether sometimes we really do control anything, do you know what i mean? or maybe i just have too much internal fog!

mata,
Absolutely! it's kind of why i locked into christianity - a god who cared enough to become like me and suffer with me

ps, sinatra every time